I recently found myself defending the selection of Aaron Curry in the NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks. Up until now, I had thought Curry was the obvious choice at that spot, and a no-brainer for Seattle if he was available.
Most of my opinions are extremely biased in favor of Seattle, but I considered Curry to be the top player available in the 2009 NFL Draft even when I didn’t think he could possibly fall past the top three. This draft wasn’t overwhelming in terms of top-level talent, but Curry is a top five pick in any draft. He was deemed the “safest” pick in the draft by most experts – the least likely to bust, and unquestionably the best player available at any position.
Fortunately for Seattle fans, Curry is a great person off the field and boasts a resume that impresses even the most stringent evaluators of character – Tim Ruskell definitely has higher standards than most general managers around the league.
There is no doubt that Curry possesses the physical ability and talent to justify his draft value. For Tim Ruskell, however, spending a draft pick on a player is an investment, and must return much more than just production every Sunday. The player not only needs to justify the selection because of their talent, but they also need to possess an exceptional work ethic and shining character.
I’m still not quite sure how the Seahawks could’ve gone another direction with the fourth overall pick with Aaron Curry available; Mark Sanchez was not a feasible option. We’re talking about a quarterback who would probably find it difficult to crack the top 15 in any other draft, and was only a one-year starter who was unable to unseat incumbent starter John David Booty at USC. Sanchez has a history with injuries after battling a number of them throughout his collegiate career, and had a couple of incidents that could put his character into question as well. I hate to paint such a bad picture for a quarterback who has yet to take a snap in the NFL, but Sanchez was not a gamble the Seahawks could afford to take at the top of the first round.
The Seahawks needed to add a playmaker that would be able to contribute immediately and develop into the superior athlete you’d expect to get from a selection in the top five of any draft. Selecting a Mark Sanchez, who probably wouldn’t be worthy of a top five choice in any other draft, to sit behind Matt Hasselbeck for a couple of years is not the right move. Mark Sanchez can make all of the NFL throws and will probably end up being a pretty good player in the league, but was too much of a gamble for Seattle and is not the typical Tim Ruskell player.
Seattle fans don’t expect to be picking in the top five again anytime soon. It may be an unreasonable bias, but I don’t think many folks in the Seattle area plan on another 4-12 season from the Seahawks. With that being said, the organization could not afford to waste an opportunity to draft the right player in the top five; the player they selected had to offer value equal to the fourth overall pick, and a gamble on a lesser player would’ve been reckless and ill-advised.
Charlie Casserly, former general manager of the Washington Redskins and Houston Texans, called Aaron Curry the best linebacker prospect in ten years. Curry dominated the other linebackers at the NFL Combine, running the fastest 40-yard dash (4.56), recording the highest vertical jump (37.0), the longest broad jump (10’4”), and the best 60-yard shuttle (11.35). His prowess at the combine is validated by his performance on the field; at Wake Forest he contributed every year as a starter, including ten starts as a freshman. He is the 2008 Butkus Award winner, given each year to the nation’s top linebacker.
There isn’t any doubt in my mind that Aaron Curry was the best player available in this year’s draft. No one would’ve been surprised if Detroit had made him the first overall pick, and I was thrilled when Kansas City passed on him before our selection.
Five years from now, our outlook on the 2009 NFL Draft could be entirely different. The player who will enjoy the most success from this class may not have even been drafted in the first round. But today, I believe it is safe to say that the Seattle Seahawks drafted the best player available with the fourth overall selection, and passing on Aaron Curry in favor of another player would’ve been foolish.
Time will tell.
Topics: 40 Yard Dash, 60-yard Shuttle, Aaron Curry, Broad Jump, Butkus Award, Charlie Casserly, Detroit Lions, General Manager, Houston Texans, Kansas City Chiefs, Mark Sanchez, Matt Hasselbeck, New York Jets, NFL Combine, NFL Draft, Seattle Seahawks, Tim Ruskell, Vertical Jump, Wake Forest, Washington Redskins